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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #26  
Old 08-20-2012, 12:09 PM
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Took the alignment shop over 1Hr to do it. Asked for lowered sport setup without agressive track-oriented layout. Explained I want to maximize the life of tires. So below is the sheet with the setup. They started with the M-sport setting and tweaked it for street use. Very happy with the outcome, and I'm certain I wouldn't be able to figure out the settings my shop came up with. They told me they had to figure out the combination of my needs, BMW specs for M-sport suspension and the actual specifics of my suspension & wheel specs. Not a DIY exercise IMHO.

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  #27  
Old 08-20-2012, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
Took the alignment shop over 1Hr to do it. Asked for lowered sport setup without agressive track-oriented layout. Explained I want to maximize the life of tires. So below is the sheet with the setup. They started with the M-sport setting and tweaked it for street use. Very happy with the outcome, and I'm certain I wouldn't be able to figure out the settings my shop came up with. They told me they had to figure out the combination of my needs, BMW specs for M-sport suspension and the actual specifics of my suspension & wheel specs. Not a DIY exercise IMHO.

Interesting, Doru. The camber & toe specs quoted on your sheet differ from the Bentley specifications. Not by much but different. And they really dialed out your rear camber. Can you feel this difference? Unless your butt meter is recently calibrated and you drive like a banshee, I would guess that most folks could not feel any differences.
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  #28  
Old 08-20-2012, 03:35 PM
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I couldn't feel any difference between before/after alignment.
But I drive conservative. I took her for some excessive spins, turns, etc, but I have attributed the very good handling to the coilovers and the tires I have placed (Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position) on the car. Fantastic.
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  #29  
Old 08-20-2012, 03:37 PM
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Doru went from -2.5 to -1.3 rear camber so he lost 50% of a sport feeling but he get 50% more life from real tires

When i bought my 2003 530i Sport 3 years ago it had the same factory rear camber settings -2.5 and it eat my rear tires like no tomorrow

I am now at -1.5 and i lost some Sport feeling due to less aggressive rear camber but my rear tires still alive after 10k miles

Life is always the balance
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  #30  
Old 08-20-2012, 03:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Given technologically, that new measuring tools at lower prices are flooding the market ... this thread is opened, specifically so that folks who wish to discuss the pros and cons of DIY home alignment and their philosophical considerations ... have a place to do so.

Simple example of common measurement technology available today:


TRUTH:
My real intent in opening this thread was so that these three tool threads listed below can then concentrate on discussing the available technology ... and not on the well-known philosophy of taking their vehicles into the shop for alignment ... instead of checking that alignment prior at home.
Hopefully, we'll make headway ... such that the RESULTS from those tool threads can then be brought back to this philosophical thread at a later date ... only then can the datapoints be meaningfully compared.

REFERENCES:
- The dozen BMW wheel alignment specs (1) and which are adjustable on the E39 (1) & cn90's front (1) and rear (1) home-alignment DIYs & how to keep the steering wheel (SW) straight (1) (2) & how to DIY caster, camber & toe (1) (2) at home (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18) (19) (20) (21) (22) (23) (24) (25) (26) and how to make your own alignment tools (1) & the theory of alignment with (1) or without adding weight (1) (2) (3)
Philosopy has absolutely nothing to do with it.
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  #31  
Old 08-20-2012, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by champaign777 View Post
Doru went from -2.5 to -1.3 rear camber so he lost 50% of a sport feeling but he get 50% more life from real tires

When i bought my 2003 530i Sport 3 years ago it had the same factory rear camber settings -2.5 and it eat my rear tires like no tomorrow

I am now at -1.5 and i lost some Sport feeling due to less aggressive rear camber but my rear tires still alive after 10k miles

Life is always the balance
For what driving I do, I don't mind it at all. Keep in mind that I'm about 1" lower than the OEM sport setup with the staggered wheels. I will go up again in winter to OEM sport & square setup.
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  #32  
Old 08-21-2012, 05:12 AM
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my time is too valuable to spend a day screwing around to save $90.
Do you do the same for all the other typical one hour maintenance tasks?
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  #33  
Old 08-21-2012, 06:17 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Actually I can do my alignment for less than 1h.
Once you get the tools made and the routine down, it is very easy.

There are many different factors in this topic:
- Money
- Free time
- Your hourly wage
- Skills
- Desire
- Self Satisfaction

1. Have no skills but have money: go to alignment shop

2. Have no skills and no money: cry

3. Have skills but no money: DIY

4. Have skills but no desire: go to alignment shop

5. Have skills and desire: DIY

6. Have skills, desire but your salary is $200/h: go to alignment shop.
On the other hand, even if your salary is $200/h, on a Saturday not going to work, you are not making money anyway, may as well align the car yourself.


The problem with alignment at home: unless you fulfill all requirements I mentioned in the previous thread (nice level garage, decent suspension, good tools/knowledge of geometry etc. etc.), don't even try it.

But if you fulfill all the requirement, it is very easy.

PS: People think the expensive Hunter alignment is accurate....well, the machine needs to be calibrated daily and before every car, the platform needs to be level, the "readers" (the panels where the lasers point to) are 6-10 feet away from the wheels. It is only that accurate.
The point I try to make it: let's say you go to Shop A and align to "spec", write it down the numbers and bring the car to shop B. Shop B will find that their numbers are somewhat different, maybe by 1-2mm.

Even the expensive equipment has its inherent margins of error.

I work with $2-3M equipment every day, so I know.

Last edited by cn90; 08-21-2012 at 06:21 AM.
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  #34  
Old 08-21-2012, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaftdrive View Post
Do you do the same for all the other typical one hour maintenance tasks?
Such as?
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  #35  
Old 08-21-2012, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Once you get the tools made and the routine down, it is very easy.
That seems to be a key tradeoff.

It takes a lot of effort to just figure out how to measure the correct alignment 'stuff' with 'enough' accuracy.

Specifically, for the E39:
  1. How to measure the vertical tilt of each rear wheel relative to flat ground
  2. How to measure the horizontal distance of the outside centerpoint of each tread relative to the vehicle centerline
Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
There are many different factors in this topic
Your discussion was so apt, that I took the liberty to paste it into this thread:
- What to tell people who say they don't have time, money, or tools to DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Shop B will find that their numbers are somewhat different, maybe by 1-2mm.
Wow!

If 1-2mm is the 'actual' accuracy of the pros, then I think we can certainly get to that at home.
[Add also the occasional 'bad mechanic', which, unfortunately, I've run into myself.]

Quote:
Even the expensive equipment has its inherent margins of error.
I'm not sure how to interpret the claimed accuracy of the professional tools yet.

Can you look at the chart below and help explain what the professionals 'claim'?

Attached is the Fudman-referenced document purporting to explain the BMW measurement system.

Am I reading correctly that BMW states they can get 2' accuracy for toe and 1' accuracy for camber under the right conditions?
Note: Each 1' is roughly 0.02; so 2' is 0.03 (to two decimal places).
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File Type: pdf BMW_Wheel_Alignment_System.pdf (455.5 KB, 23 views)
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 08-21-2012 at 11:19 AM.
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  #36  
Old 08-21-2012, 10:56 AM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
PS: People think the expensive Hunter alignment is accurate....well, the machine needs to be calibrated daily and before every car, the platform needs to be level, the "readers" (the panels where the lasers point to) are 6-10 feet away from the wheels. It is only that accurate.
The point I try to make it: let's say you go to Shop A and align to "spec", write it down the numbers and bring the car to shop B. Shop B will find that their numbers are somewhat different, maybe by 1-2mm.

While that may be true and certainly possible; it implies that most DIY at home when brought to a CALIBRATED shop will be spot in just about every case and that home DIY equipment doesn't need any calibration at all and accurate given all the variables involved as well.

Since we all keep bringing up extreme cases in defense of ones' view, I think in the end, people can make different choices for EACH and every repair given the circumstances at hand. What may apply for one situation can easily change for the same person given another factor and certainly should never be applied across the board.

I still firmly believe any competent tech (which assumes has calibrated equipment) will always be more accurate than most DIYers. The bottom line is how ACCURATE or what margin of error people are willing to accept in either case determines which they will choose.

Last edited by dvsgene; 08-21-2012 at 11:04 AM.
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  #37  
Old 08-21-2012, 11:04 AM
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Philosopy has absolutely nothing to do with it.
+++++++++1 couldn't agree more.
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  #38  
Old 08-21-2012, 11:18 AM
ThoreauHD ThoreauHD is offline
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My BMW racing shop does my alignment with a string. DIY is fine if you have a lift and a clue.
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  #39  
Old 08-21-2012, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
that home DIY equipment doesn't need any calibration
I don't think we've yet discussed home DIY 'calibration' per se.

The tools I looked at, each seem to have their own calibration methods.

For example:
- Smart Camber Calibration Quick Reference Sheet (PDF)

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
and accurate given all the variables involved as well.
My assumption, from the start, was that we're assuming ROUTINE maintenance in all these discussion (i.e., not accident analysis, not custom settings, not worn components, etc.).

So, I've been assuming (all along) the only 'things' we'll check are the only things that 'can' be adjusted, which are:
  1. Rear camber
  2. Rear toe
  3. Front toe
Since we only need to take into account variables that affect those two types of measurement, may I ask:


Q: What specific variables affect camber & toe measurements that we can't easily compensate for in the home garage?



For example, we may need to level the floor for camber (depending on the equipment zeroing capability); however many simple methods have already been proposed for that task - so it's not an unknown.
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File Type: pdf 011074_smartcamber_reference.pdf (103.8 KB, 23 views)
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 08-21-2012 at 11:38 AM.
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  #40  
Old 08-21-2012, 12:00 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Since we are getting scientific, at the earth equator, each minute represents a distance of 3.543 km = 3543 meters.

---------

Look at the Hunter Hawkeye Elite $10,000 equipment:
http://www.hunter.com/company/news/p...keye_elite.cfm

The lasers are pointing from about let's say 5 meters away:



Per bluebee post above, the accuracy are down to 2' (one degree = 60'; 1' = 60").

Tangent (2/60) = Tangent (0.033333 degrees).

Tangent (0.033333 degrees) = 0.000581776483.

At 5 meters away, this margin of error is:
0.000581776483 x 5000 mm = 2.91 mm.

This is exactly what I mentioned previously. The equipment is only that accurate, whether it costs $10K or $100K.

Just basic geometry/trigonometry.

-------

At home,

- Once you have all 4 wheels on a level surface and ensure that all 4 corners are on the same level plane (do whatever you want with all those 2x12 wood pieces to be sure the car is on a level plane), then you are golden.

- The plumb bob system that I use: the string goes straight to the ground marking (on masking tape), so you don't have to deal with 5 meters divergence. The string is a straight shot down. In other words, it is quite accurate.

Look, I am not saying everyone should try this, it is not easy if you don't have good grasp of geometry/trigonometry/how to create a level plane, however, if you follow the principles of parallelism, you can get it very close.

One of these days when I have more time (probably never LOL), I will write a detail DIY using plumb bobs. Easy, simple and bullet-proof system.
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  #41  
Old 08-21-2012, 12:45 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Now we're getting somewhere with the nitty gritty, since we are talking about accuracy here, my questions in bold:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Since we are getting scientific, at the earth equator, each minute represents a distance of 3.543 km = 3543 meters.

I thought each minute is 1853 meters. and 2 minutes would be 3705 meters based on this:

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_you...rees_to_meters

Based on the spreadsheet link within.

http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/UsefulDat...tm#Spreadsheet

---------

Look at the Hunter Hawkeye Elite $10,000 equipment:
http://www.hunter.com/company/news/p...keye_elite.cfm

The lasers are pointing from about let's say 5 meters away:



Per bluebee post above, the accuracy are down to 2' (one degree = 60'; 1' = 60").

Tangent (2/60) = Tangent (0.033333 degrees).

Isn't Tangent 2 degrees= Tangent ( 0.03492076949) ? Just type "tangent 2 degrees" into Google.


Tangent (0.033333 degrees) = 0.000581776483.

So Tangent( 0.03492076949) =0.00060948248) Use the same google answer and hit Tan and = functions:

At 5 meters away, this margin of error is:
0.000581776483 x 5000 mm = 2.91 mm.

0.00060948248x5000mm =3.04741240214mm

Why is there a margin of error on a laser? Does the Hunter manual say there is a margin of error not compensated for in the software algorithm? I'm assuming when you spend millions on R&D, you take such measuring distance into account and why you use lasers. Is this all smoke and mirrors?


This is exactly what I mentioned previously. The equipment is only that accurate, whether it costs $10K or $100K.

Just basic geometry/trigonometry.

-------

At home,

- Once you have all 4 wheels on a level surface and ensure that all 4 corners are on the same level plane (do whatever you want with all those 2x12 wood pieces to be sure the car is on a level plane), then you are golden.

How do we know the 2x12 woods are straight? Wood inherently can change levelness based on moisture levels (ever see wood bend when wet and then stay bent when dry?)


- The plumb bob system that I use: the string goes straight to the ground marking (on masking tape), so you don't have to deal with 5 meters divergence. The string is a straight shot down. In other words, it is quite accurate.

Again, why is there a margin of error of 5 meters in a laser system with software algorithms?


Look, I am not saying everyone should try this, it is not easy if you don't have good grasp of geometry/trigonometry/how to create a level plane, however, if you follow the principles of parallelism, you can get it very close.

This says it all, close or accurate depends on the DIYer which comes back full circle to Bluebees question: "How accurate is good enough?"


One of these days when I have more time (probably never LOL), I will write a detail DIY using plumb bobs. Easy, simple and bullet-proof system.


With all due respect; like, Bluebee, I appeal to facts, if tangent and other numbers are not accurate to begin with, how can one assume most DIY will get it right? Maybe after all this bantering, I may just try it out myself, if convinced. Admittedly, I am splitting hairs here, but isn't that what we are after in proving "accuracy"?

Last edited by dvsgene; 08-21-2012 at 01:58 PM.
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  #42  
Old 08-21-2012, 01:15 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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dvsgene,

Thanks for pointing out that for the earth: each minute is 1853 meters.
You are correct.
I was trying to point out the issue of divergence.

----------------

But your other points:
- Tangent: time to review get your high school book on the definition of tangent.
- Lumber, I always buy straight and true lumber, no warped lumber. And I verify them before each use.

Laser is accurate but only that accurate, for God's sake, even the most technological stuff like GPS is only that accurate.



Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene
Again, why is there a margin of error of 5 meters in a laser system with software algorithms?
- The point I try to make: let's say the tech sets up the car on the Hunter machine, if he moves the wheel in and out by 1mm, the Hunter machine may not pick it up.
Basic geometry, nothing fancy.
- I doubt if these techs have a good grasp of trigonometry.

Last edited by cn90; 08-21-2012 at 01:17 PM.
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  #43  
Old 08-21-2012, 01:27 PM
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If ones determined to try this I suggest something simple. Get your car aligned professionally first.

Go home and try your home alignment. If it gives results that are VERY close then figure you've got a shot. If you show your car horribly out of alignment, STOP, back away from the vehicle and stick with oil changes for a pass time.
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  #44  
Old 08-21-2012, 01:30 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
dvsgene,

Thanks for pointing out that for the earth: each minute is 1853 meters.
You are correct.
I was trying to point out the issue of divergence.

----------------

But your other points:
- Tangent: time to review get your high school book on the definition of tangent.
- Lumber, I always buy straight and true lumber, no warped lumber. And I verify them before each use.

Laser is accurate but only that accurate, for God's sake, even the most technological stuff like GPS is only that accurate.



- The point I try to make: let's say the tech sets up the car on the Hunter machine, if he moves the wheel in and out by 1mm, the Hunter machine may not pick it up.
Basic geometry, nothing fancy.
- I doubt if these techs have a good grasp of trigonometry.

You're right but got to say, GPS is typically accurate to 10 meters soon to be 3cm due to modern technology.

http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/04/new...curacy-to-3cm/

Considering the GPS satellites are in space, that's pretty darn accurate in my book. With modern computers, surely R&D can take into account 5 meter distances.


However, do we know for a FACT, Hunter doesn't pick that up? How does a wheel move in and out by 1mm when plates are designed to rotate only?

See, I think both sides have very valid points on accuracy. When a company spends millions on R&D, I would expect these things to be taking into account for operators without a grasp of trigonometry.

However, I do agree that competent tech and calibrated equipment in either DIY or Hunter has its questionable practices. Unfortunately, none of us work for Hunter or have an answer on their software algorithms. In which case, we are making false assumptions about what the Hunter machine can or cannot compensate for.

Oh well, I don't think we'll come to any meaningful conclusion on this long winded thread!!

Last edited by dvsgene; 08-21-2012 at 01:54 PM.
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  #45  
Old 08-21-2012, 01:41 PM
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Something handy if you know your floors level, beats 2x4's

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Universal-Ma...216630&vxp=mtr
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  #46  
Old 08-21-2012, 02:00 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crowz View Post
If ones determined to try this I suggest something simple. Get your car aligned professionally first.

Go home and try your home alignment. If it gives results that are VERY close then figure you've got a shot. If you show your car horribly out of alignment, STOP, back away from the vehicle and stick with oil changes for a pass time.
Funny, I was thinking the reverse. Do a Home alignment then bring it to a shop to check your work. If close, you have a chance....
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  #47  
Old 08-21-2012, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
Funny, I was thinking the reverse. Do a Home alignment then bring it to a shop to check your work. If close, you have a chance....
Thought of that too but the tires might take some minor wear from it or worse case the shops might be closed after getting done and your stuck with it for the weekend
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  #48  
Old 08-21-2012, 03:23 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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LOL, going back and re-reading this thread is hilarious. The three main people making an argument for/against have never done or experienced the other side of the coin

1) Bluebee has never done an alignment at all (DIY or Shop) currently advocates DIY over shop for cost savings.
2) CN90, never having used a Hunter Hawkeye laser alignment speculating its accuracy and what it may not compensate for without proof
3) Me, have witnessed a Hunter Hawkeye System being operated by a very competent tech swears off DIY (for now)

Seems to me, NO ONE is in a position to defend any of their positions properly. Unless we've experienced both side of the coin, it's all conjecture!!!

Last edited by dvsgene; 08-21-2012 at 05:43 PM.
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  #49  
Old 08-21-2012, 04:52 PM
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doru doru is offline
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A DIY spray-can job can also bear good results in pics.
But I will always go to a paint shop, even it's more expensive.
You can also DIY your windshield (BMW), but I wil go to a shop that knows how to change the specific BMW windshield.
The list goes on.
One can take the engine apart and rebuild it without proper tools. There are small tolerances anyways. Who cares for 0.02"? You can barely see it. Viewed from the satellite it's bang on.

Just being a doosh here...

And carry on, it's interesting:
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  #50  
Old 08-21-2012, 05:56 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post

And carry on, it's interesting:
What more is there to say with the limited knowledge at hand. I'll try to talk to my tech who also races on weekends what they do at the track and how accurate he feels it is.

In the end, it is like every DIY, why do we choose to DIY or bring it in. Neither always guarantees perfection or accuracy.

An argument can be made "why do we go to professionals for anything when with enough time, guidance, and confidence, everything can be done at home?"

1) We can cook at home instead of going out to eat.
2) We go to the doctor when we can self diagnose at home (Like Rosie O'Donnell just did)
3) We buy a new ______ (fill in the blank) instead of fixing the broken one.

and on and on.

And a similar analogy would be "Why do we go to an accountant to do taxes, when we can do it with pen and paper or Turbotax?"

The same arguments for/against can apply:
1) Time
2) Money
3) Accuracy
4) Skills

etc,etc.

Why did this thread choose this particular subject to determine a DIY at home vs professional?

Sometimes the answer is very simple-"Just because I want to"

Last edited by dvsgene; 08-21-2012 at 06:05 PM.
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